Saturday, May 09, 2015

Upper Klamath Falls

It was time to say goodbye to the Pacific west coast and head further inland, our next stop Klamath Falls. The journey south-east took around five hours and passed through a mixed terrain of vineyard, forest, snow capped mountain, lake and even a little desert.

At it's height we were at 5,000ft and a temperature of 11C when we left the coast rose to 26C at the time of our arrival. A number of stops on the way were quite productive with Great Egret, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Long-billed Dowicher, Wild Turkey, American Coot, Common Merganser, Wood Duck and American Dipper.

Western Grebe - Over twenty on arrival at the lake.
Around 2 miles out from the hotel we suddenly arrived at the stunning Upper Klamath Lake. At almost 30 miles long and up to eight miles wide with depths of up to 60 feet in some places, Upper Klamath Lake is the largest freshwater body west of the Rocky Mountains. We pulled in almost immediately, Dee having spotted several Western Grebe quite close in. As we took in the surroundings a couple of American White Pelican flew through and during our stop Bonaparte's Gull and Ring-billed Gull were also noted.

American White Pelican - Upper Klamath Lake
After another mile or so and a second stop to watch a small colony of Cliff Swallows nesting under a road bridge. While enjoying the display a few Red-winged Blackbirds were quite vocal and three Terns passing through turned out to be Forster's Terns. Also observed before heading on to our accommodation: Great Egret, Hooded MerganserGreat Blue Heron and Swallowtail butterfly.

Red-winged Blackbird with it's unmistakable call.
Our accommodation over the next three days is the Running Y Ranch. This is actually a resort hotel situated in the heart of the Cascade Mountain range, just short of the Californian border. The area is renown for an exceptionally mild climate, producing on average 300 days of sunshine a year. The ranch is complete with an Arnold Palmer 18 hole golf course and many walks and trails, including some large lakes.

Gophers everywhere!
After settling in and a few beers in the bar Dee and I had a pleasant evening stroll around the grounds, my shorts are finally out of the suitcase! Gophers are everywhere here and in one of the large pools that are incorporated into the golf course two Yellow-bellied Muskrats, much to Dee's delight. The pools had a decent selection of birds too with: American Wigeon, Redhead, Gadwall, American White Pelican and Great Egret. The stroll back to the accommodation increased the now steadily growing list with Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewers Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Warbling Vireo, House Finch, Northern Flicker, Turkey Vulture and Raven.